Reverbs from the ECHO Chamber — a Q & A with Mr. Steven Tompkins

Kaden Bates '20, Staff Reporter

Trinity teacher Mr. Steven Tompkins            Signature Studio

Another in a continuing series of Q & A interviews with Trinity faculty, staff and administrators.

Mr. Steven Tompkins, a 1981 alumnus, has held a number of positions at his alma mater since graduating from the University of Louisville: teacher, Director of Alumni Affairs and the Annual Fund, Senior Development Officer, golf coach and baseball coach. He has also officiated football and baseball.  A Gonzaga House mentor, Mr. Tompkins currently teaches Spanish and serves in the Athletics Department as Director of Sports Ministry.

Q: What led you to teach Spanish?

A: When I was a sophomore at the University of Louisville, I took a Spanish class, and the teacher said, “You are really good at this. You ought to think about getting a major in Spanish…at least minor in Spanish.” So I got a minor, never thinking I would do anything with it. And then 15 years later, I’m working as Director of the Annual Fund, Director of Alumni Affairs, and they needed a Spanish teacher. I was like wow, okay! That was it!

I will tell you that theme that constantly weighs in all the time, “Brothers for Life,” is such a huge thing for us and is not just a saying. I think that is something that runs deep, that we feel.”

Q: If you had not pursued teaching, what would you have pursued?

A: I would have been a coach at some level.

Q: Would you rather coach or officiate sports?

A: I would rather coach. I enjoy officiating. That’s fun to me. But, I’d rather coach than officiate.

Q: If you could only coach one sport what would it be?

A: Baseball. I know more about baseball as far as coaching, techniques and fundamentals.

Q: What do we not know about your sports career?

A: It’s a little like bragging — I never knew I own this record. I hold a record in the state of Kentucky. I am the only amateur player to have been named most valuable player in two — the ABCA (American Baseball Coaches Association) and then the NABF (National Amateur Baseball Federation) — regional tournaments back-to-back weekends. That was kind of wild!

Q: Who are some people who influenced you at Trinity?

A: The people that were the icons when I was here were people like Rich Rostel. He was my baseball coach. He was my Spanish teacher. Guys like Fr. Ron Domhoff. You know, Fr. Dave Zettel, who is still around. Guys you know, John Kahl, Don Switzer. Some of those guys were my teachers when I was in school here. Those were the guys that we idolized. If I want to come back and be a teacher, you know, I want to be like those guys. There are guys that are just now retiring, like John Ellington, or retired recently, like Joe Bryant. You know, teachers like that.

Q: If there was one moment at Trinity that made you realize how much you love Trinity what would it be?

A: Retreats were always that for me. It was just that program. I can remember going on my senior retreat and then being a senior and having the opportunity afforded to me to be a leader my senior year. I just fell in love with the program. That is part of the reason I became a teacher as well — just to have an impact on a young man’s life. You know you aren’t going to save everybody, but if you are able to reach just one person and give them a reason to say, “Hey! I want to go this way. I want to go that way.” Just to be able to do that.

Q: What is the single best thing about your job?

A: The single best thing about my job is there’s something different every day. Yes, it’s Spanish, but it’s a different chapter, it’s different vocabulary, there are different things that happen. To be able to see the light bulb go off in one student’s head, just to see, “Wow! I got it!” I taught him this, I taught him that. To be able to see that happen, there’s no better feeling as a teacher.

Q: What do you tell a shadow who asks you, “What makes Trinity better than that other school?”  

A: That’s another tough question. I don’t ever want to feel like we’re elitists. I will tell you that theme that constantly weighs in all the time, “Brothers for Life,” is such a huge thing for us and is not just a saying. I think that is something that runs deep, that we feel.